Sonata is the brand name for a prescription medication called zaleplon. It’s in a class of drugs called non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, which are often called Z-drugs because their names usually start with the letter Z. Sonata is used to treat sleep disorders like insomnia.
Like other sleep medications, it’s indicated for short-term therapeutic use, and long-term use is less effective. Using Sonata for more than a few weeks can lead to tolerance, and it will be less useful in facilitating sleep. Sonata and other Z-drugs are generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated, but using them in very high doses for a long time could lead to chemical dependence, overdose, and withdrawal symptoms.
While the Sonata is considered to be relatively safe and useful, it can be misused for non-medical purposes. Sonata is in a large category of drugs called central nervous system depressants that includes alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other sedative drugs. Depressants are often misused for their ability to cause a relaxing high or a release of inhibitions, similar to alcohol. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations (FDA), Sonata has a misuse potential on a level that’s similar to benzodiazepines.
Misuse and long-term use can lead to dependence, which can cause uncomfortable and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. But how dangerous is Sonata withdrawal, and is there a safe way to stop using a depressant like Sonata? Learn more about Sonata withdrawal and how it can be effectively treated.
Will I Experience Sonata Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms are caused by chemical dependence. Also called physical dependence, chemical dependence is when your brain adapts to the presence of a chemical and comes to rely on it to maintain balance in your nervous system. According to the FDA, Sonata has shown some potential to cause dependence after regular use for 14, 18, and 35 five days. After a while, your brain will adjust your natural chemicals to counteract the depressant and adapt to the drug. When you stop taking Sonata, you’ll experience the effects of a sudden imbalance in your brain chemistry.
One of the most common signs of chemical dependence is tolerance. Tolerance is when you start to feel like the drug is losing its effectiveness. Your regular dose will start to feel weaker, and you may not receive the same benefits that you once did. Tolerance is a sign that your brain and body are adapting to the drug, and it’s a common problem with sleep aids.
Sonata, like other sedatives, becomes less effective after several weeks of use. Even increasing the dose may not make it as effective as it was when you first started. If you still have sleep problems after you stop taking the drug, you’ll have to speak with your doctor to find a new medication or treatment option.
Other signs of dependence include:
- Using the drug in higher doses
- Using the drug more often
- Drug cravings
- Uncomfortable symptoms when you cut back
- Trying and failing to stop using
What Are Sonata Withdrawal Symptoms?
After your body gets used to the inhibiting effects of Sonata, you’ll rely on the drug to maintain your chemical balance. Quitting may cause uncomfortable symptoms, as your body is thrown out of chemical balance. As you developed a dependence on the drug, your brain may have adjusted your natural brain chemistry to cause more excitatory effects and fewer of its own native inhibitory chemicals.
When you stop taking a depressant, your chemical balance will tip to being too excitatory, causing you to become overstimulated. When it comes to Sonata, the most common effect will be rebound insomnia. A rebound symptom is one that returns after you stop taking a drug that was intended to treat it. Insomnia is the most common side effect of withdrawal from a sleep aid. According to the FDA, short-acting hypnotics like Sonata have been associated with rebound insomnia for a few nights after cessation. Rebound insomnia also seems to be dose-dependent, which means it can be worse if you were taking a higher dose of the drug before you quit.
Sedative-hypnotic sleep aids are also associated with anxiety after an abrupt cessation. Overactivity in your nervous system can make you feel restless, nervous, anxious, and even panicked. Other potential withdrawal symptoms of a hypnotic drug like Sonata include:
- Shaky hands
Some depressants can cause severe symptoms like seizures, hallucinations, extreme confusion, and heart arrhythmias. Many of these symptoms are associated with a condition called delirium tremens (DTs), which can be caused by the withdrawal from depressants like alcohol and benzodiazepines. However, Sonata hasn’t been shown to cause severe delirium, seizures, or hallucinations. Still, very high doses followed by an abrupt cessation of the drug could cause more severe symptoms. If you’re taking a depressant, it’s important to speak to your doctor before deciding to quit cold turkey.
When Do Symptoms Start?
Sonata has a fairly short half-life, which is the time it takes your body to eliminate half of the drug in your bloodstream. Half-life is often used to measure how long a drug will be active before its effects are significantly reduced. Sonata also doesn’t have any active metabolites, which are active chemicals that are made as your body breaks down a drug. Because of this, Sonata is significantly less effective after just one hour. Many people will start to experience withdrawal symptoms like rebound insomnia by the next night after they stop using the drug. In some cases involving sleep aids with short half-lives, people experience increased wakefulness early in the morning after taking a dose to go to sleep and anxiety during the day after.
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
Since Sonata is such a short-acting drug that your body will start to process very quickly, withdrawal happens fairly quickly. You may feel insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms for a few days after your last dose before your symptoms begin to fade. Your symptoms may peak sometime around the second day after your last dose. You may not have any acute symptoms after five days. In some cases, anxiety and insomnia can linger. If your insomnia rebounds and then doesn’t go away, you may need to speak to your doctor about other treatment options.
Is Sonata Withdrawal Dangerous?
Central nervous system depressants represent the most dangerous major category of drugs when it comes to withdrawal symptoms. Depressants are known to cause seizures, hallucinations, panicked confusion, coma, and heart failure during withdrawal, particularly when you go through withdrawal without any medical help. However, Sonata is a relatively mild depressant. Since it only lasts for one hour, your body has many hours to process it out and adjust your brain chemistry, even if you take a dose every day.
Sonata isn’t usually associated with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, but severe chemical dependence could lead to uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Even though Sonata is a mild depressant, it is a depressant nonetheless. Before you decide to quit, speak to your doctor about getting off the drug safely. Always avoid quitting a central nervous system depressant cold turkey without speaking to a doctor first.
How Is Sonata Withdrawal Treated?
Since Sonata doesn’t have a high misuse liability or potential for addiction, you may be able to treat a Sonata dependence by working with your doctor. If you’ve been prescribed Sonata, your doctor may be able to help you taper off the drug slowly. Tapering involves taking smaller and smaller doses over a specific period before quitting completely. This allows your body to adapt to small deficiencies of the drug each day rather than shocking your nervous system with a sudden chemical imbalance. If you have a more severe chemical dependence on Sonata, you may need addiction treatment.
If you’ve used extremely high doses of Sonata or mixed it with other depressants or opioids, you may need to go through a detox program. Detox is reserved for people who are likely to go through more severe withdrawal symptoms or other medical complications. Detox involves 24-hour care from medical professionals. It may also involve tapering or treatment with other medications to help manage symptoms.
If you’ve become addicted to Sonata or another drug, detox can be an important step, but it’s not enough to effectively address your problem. Addiction treatment is a complex process that involves multiple levels of care with treatment for medical, psychological, and social problems. In addiction treatment, you may go through inpatient or outpatient treatment, individual therapy, group therapy, and various behavioral therapies.